C-Suite Intelligence 5th May 2020

Winmark's C-Suite Intelligence service providing news, content and research to help leaders across all C-Suite functions address the exceptional business planning and management challenges they are facing.

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Boards and executives, avoid these traps in a crisis
Harvard Business Review
Just at the time when leaders need to be adaptive to deal with the extreme number of unknowns, many executive teams and boards could fall victim to “threat rigidity” - that is, essentially freezing innovation and resorting to actions that have worked in the past rather than coming up with crucial new approaches. Based on recent research and consulting work here are questions you should ask to avoid the three main traps:
Trap #1: Narrow thinking 
  • What are other organizations doing right now - especially potential new competitors in our space? The focus on entrants in your industry, geographic, or customer niche is helpful because they are less likely to have outdated routines to fall back on.
  • Is the disaster plan we created and rehearsed fit for this particular crisis? Explicitly discussing this question will help executives and directors understand whether they’re adopting an existing plan because they are avoiding the discomfort of having to devise a new approach.
  • Which external advisors could you lean on to help you challenge your assumptions? A number of the company’s existing advisors (e.g., lawyers, consultants, and auditors) who work across a very wide array of companies, industries, and countries can help the members of the group think more expansively and customize potential solutions.
 Trap #2: Deferring to the leader 
  • Are you getting the perspectives of your independent directors? Especially if the board chair is also the CEO, it’s crucial to make sure that independent directors feel comfortable offering alternative points of view.
  • Are directors over relying on the chair to make decisions? For example, are board committees convening to handle hot topics and then providing sufficient input for full board discussions?
  • Are senior executives over relying on the CEO to make decisions and communicate with stakeholders? The entire team should be involved in creating solutions and communicating what is happening.
Trap #3: Conformity
  • Has everyone received the full set of information and been given a chance to form his or her own opinion before hearing others? Have directors, for example, been given access to relevant executives outside the C-Suite whose knowledge is essential in addressing the crisis (e.g., the head of the supply chain who normally doesn’t have board access).
  • Are all experts sharing their expertise? Every expert will see the same problem through his or her own lens and be likely to have a somewhat different recommendation.
  • Does the senior leadership team or board simply accept the first plausible solution, or does it continue to search for alternative, potentially superior solutions? The group should strive to come up with a range of possible futures and different options for each scenario. 


COVID-19: returning to the workplace guide
While at present there is no formal end to the government’s restrictions on work or travel, other countries – including Spain and Italy – have begun to ease certain restrictions and it is possible that the UK may follow suit in a few weeks (although there have been warnings that we will face some forms of social distancing for some time to come). In addition, the current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (commonly known as the furlough scheme) is currently due to end on 30 June 2020, and so organisations need to start thinking about what happens next.
Employers need to plan now for what is likely to be staged return to the workplace over what could be prolonged periods. This short guide covers the following areas:
  • Managing returning to the workplace
  • Dealing with redundancies and related issues once the furlough scheme ends
  • Managing holidays, sickness and other absences.  
Access the guide here.
BT Group Chief Executive Philip Jansen on leading through COVID-19
Gavin Patterson, CEO of Salesforce International, in conversation with BT Group Chief Executive Philip Jansen on how he is leading his company through COVID-19, including overcoming the virus himself.
Watch the recording here.  

Six fundamental principles to simplify the complex
Strategy + Business
Steve Jobs said, “Simple can be harder than complex: you have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
This article outlines six principles to help you think and behave in a more agile and lean way
Find out more here.

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